Archives for August, 2009

In a two-page notice in today’s Federal Register, the Department of Labor’s acting assistant secretary for policy has officially withdrawn the so-called “secret rule” on occupational health risk assessment.  It was exactly this time last summer that the G.W. Bush Administration’s Labor Department proposed new requirements for OSHA’s and MSHA’s preparation of occupational health risk assessments.  The…

Greening the Academic Experience

by Kas Universities nation-wide welcome students to their campuses for the start of a new academic year.  With “sustainability” on the lips of many university administrators and faculty, it comes as no surprise that new student orientations and university move-in programs have “gone green.”  Some specific examples of “green” activities at The George Washington University…

Occupational Health News Roundup

High Country News investigated worker deaths in dairy operations in Western states, and found that at least 18 people died between 2003 and 2009. (See their list of injuries and deaths for details.) Rebecca Claren explains: They were killed in tractor accidents, suffocated by falling hay bales, crushed by charging cows and bulls and asphyxiated…

Go for Broke! Unintended Toxic Consequences

by Kas In August 2006, the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program (NVMSRP) was established by the USEPA in a cooperative effort with auto manufacturers, steelmakers, dismantlers, shredders, State governments, environmentalists, and trade associations.  The NVMSRP was designed to recover mercury-containing materials from scrap vehicles, specifically mercury switches used in convenience lighting (the reason the…

Remembering Ted Kennedy

As the nation mourns the loss of Senator Edward Kennedy, it’s worth reading a Newsweek piece he wrote just last month on why the struggle for universal healthcare has been the cause of his life. He writes about the many times in his life when he and his family members have needed healthcare, and have had no trouble getting…

The Next Agricultural Revolution?

One of the most e-mailed articles on the New York Times website today is Dickson D. Despommier’s op-ed “A Farm on Every Floor.” He has an intriguing proposal: grow crops inside tall buildings, a practice known as vertical farming. Since climate disruption is altering rainfall patterns and causing more floods and droughts, farmers are finding it…

Tobacco Tactics in the Battle Over BPA

As evidence about the health risks associated with smoking accumulated, the tobacco industry responded by funding its own research, which concluded that cigarettes aren’t so bad after all. They recruited spokespeople who’d proclaim tobacco’s safety without revealing that they were being paid handsomely by cigarette manufacturers. These activities (and others in the same vein) helped…

by Richard Denison, PhD  cross-posted from blogs.edf In June, EPA published a Federal Register notice that included Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) for two carbon nanotubes (as well as 21 other chemicals).  That notice certainly got the attention of lawyers in town (see here, here and here).  The nanotube SNURs would require anyone planning to…

Case report: nanoparticles in workers’ lungs

Three physicians and researchers from the Capital University of Medical Sciences (Beijing, China) have published a case report in the European Respiratory Journal describing severe lung disease in seven female workers employed at a shop where they applied polyacrylic coatings to polystyrene boards.  The lung disease is just one part of the story—two of the women died (ages…

Occupational Health News Roundup

An Institute of Medicine task force responsible for recommending protections for healthcare workers from the swine flu/H1N1 virus held a meeting last week, and CIDRAP reporters were there. Robert Roos reports that the first day focused on the efficacy of surgical masks and N95 respirators in shielding healthcare workers from respiratory illness: The IOM panel…